My Apple Takeaways
By CNBC's Jim Goldman
Apple's always been associated with elegance.
Its industrial design is second to none and the company has this uncanny knack for knowing what the market needs, and then coming up with something the market ultimately craves.
Today, Steve Jobs added a high degree of class not just to the Apple story, but his personal story too.
When he came out to thunderous applause, a standing ovation, who knew what to expect?
Certainly not the emotion and candor from a guy who's made living like a recluse an art form.
"I'm very happy to be here today with you all," he began. "As some of you may know, about five months ago I had a liver transplant. So I now have the liver of a mid 20's person who died in a car crash and was generous enough to donate their organs. And I wouldn't be here without such generosity."
He talked briefly about organ donation and then he moved on to business. He struck the perfect tone, and you could sense the deep emotion, real feelings, that he was sharing.
It set the tone for what, on the surface, might have been a subdued event, but carried with it some compelling themes that should not be lost on investors.
Jobs and team spent a lot of time espousing the virtues of the iTunes store, with its 8.5 billion downloads so far and staggering 100 million accounts. He talked about the nascent App Store which is absolutely booming, with its 75,000 apps and well over 1.8 billion downloads (not including updates!) He talked about the iPod Touch not merely as a video or music player, but a gaming device that could rival (is rivaling?) the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS. Just by sheer entertainment and gaming titles alone, Touch and iPhone blow the competition away: over 600 titles for PSP, over 3,000 for DS, but a whopping 21,000 for iPhone and Touch. That App Store is extraordinary.
And it speaks to the Apple magic. You can have beautiful hardware, but if the software is clunky, who's gonna buy it? You can have the greatest software, but if the hardware is clunky, who's gonna buy it? That's why Apple is such a captivating story; blending hardware and software that go together like Oreos and milk, and that consumers can't gobble up enough of. The Apple economic ecosystem was on full display today, leaving little doubt as to why this company's market cap is knocking up against our parent company GE's, and which, according to Pacific Crest's Andy Hargreaves, will rival that of Microsoft's some day.
And innovation continues: it might be an incremental improvement adding that camera to the iPod Nano, but it speaks to the 1 billion videos Google's Youtube serves up online every day, why CEO Eric Schmidt was on hand-in person for today's event even after leaving Apple's board because of increasing marketplace conflicts-and why Apple absolutely needs to be "there," in the world of online video. And it also should put Cisco Systems and its recent $600 million purchase of Pure Digital and its wildly popular Flip camera on notice that there's a big new competitor on block.
Apple didn't announce a deal with the Beatles, or the Rolling Stones (but wow, Norah Jones performed live! Too cool!), no Mac Tablet and some aggressive price cuts for its iPods. It's no wonder Apple shares, running up big to today's event, fell. But I think once investors get their arms around the bigger Apple picture, and remember that price cuts have led to huge increases in sales volume that more than made up for lower prices, they'll grasp just how big a deal this company is, and what it offers.
Jobs is back. Apple never left. For Apple investors and Apple fanboys alike, life seems good again.
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My Apple Takeaways